Let me introduce you to the Hubble Space Telescope (affectionately dubbed "ST"). Says one authority: "It's not hyperbole to say that ST is as much an improvement over the most powerful existing telescope as Galileo's first spyglass in 1609 was over the human eye.... It could bring into focus the stars on an American flag at a distance of 3,000 miles. ST will record images...via electronic light collectors so sensitive they could detect a flashlight on the Moon."
Thanks to ST, a mind-boggling new dimension will open to us because it will take us back into time. To understand this, think of a bolt of lightning flashing across the sky. Five or six seconds later we hear a thunderclap. In actuality, we are hearing back into time. The sound of the thunder is signalling an event that—thanks to the lightning flash—we know happened five to six seconds earlier.
Astronomer Richard Harms uses this analogy to describe ST's ability to help us view the distant past by virtue of its capacity to see great distances. "Instead of sound waves from thunder," he suggests, "think of light waves travelling from a far galaxy to the space telescope above the earth. Light moves very fast, but the distance is so vast that a certain amount of time has to elapse before the light can get from there to here." A "light year" is the distance light travels in one year, 5.8 trillion miles. Thus, ST should be able to pick up images that have been travelling for as long as 12 billion years.
Are you ready for this? That means we'd be able to see events that transpired when the universe was a dozen billion years younger!
Just this morning, thinking about all this, I read these familiar words: "God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens" (Genesis 1:16-17).
Wouldn't it be something if one of ST's most distant signals revealed evidences of the creative hand of God? That should be sufficient to turn goose-pimple excitement into mouth-opening faith, even for the most cynical scientists.
"O world invisible, we view thee, O world intangible, we touch thee, O world unknowable, we know thee" (The Kingdom of God, Francis Thompson).
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.